The jury has rendered its verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. He was found guilty on all counts.
How do we respond and process and proceed from such an experience?
- We value the rule of law and the order it brings to us as Americans. And in America, no one is above the law. We have a system of justice in which everyone receives due process and that applies to every individual. Our process requires the participation of many people functioning in a variety of interrelated roles. And of all that worked in this case.
- Many of our fellow citizens participated in this process: there were very average Americans who stopped, sought to intervene, called 911, offered to assist officers, recorded and then testified to what they witnessed on May 25, 2020 outside of Cup Foods, Lake Street, Minneapolis; millions then protested in cities and millions more watched in horror; churches sought to respond; and over the course of the past year, the justice system gathered evidence, brought charges, and presented a case to another dozen very average Americans who took their civic responsibility seriously and served as the jury of Derek Chauvin’s peers.
- And today, that portion of the process has concluded but it would not be accurate to describe it as “over” in that the defense will likely raise a number of objections, there will be appeals, and 2 months from now, Derek Chauvin will be sentenced. At all levels of governance, from the U.S. Congress to our most local of policing, substantive conversations about racism and reform will continue. Those same conversations need to be taking place at our dinner tables, in our churches and in our spheres of influence. Real people are suffering real trauma and as God’s people in this culture, our concern must rise to the occasion of the day.
So, what now? How do proceed down the path of racial reconciliation – or ethnic conciliation – in America?
Let’s go back to the ABC’s:
- Awareness, activation and advocacy. ASK questions and listen to people talk about their experience.
- Build genuine relationships with people who are not like you. Be willing to learn and see the world through a perspective other than your own.
- Commit to change. Commit to change at a personal, interpersonal, community, institutional and national level.
4. Do not settle back in; do not divert your attention; do not neglect to follow through; do not allow yourself to imagine that the outcome of this one trial has accomplished the necessary transformation of human hearts or the experience of black and brown people in this nation.
There is much work to do and it begins with the acknowledgement that every human being is created in the Image of God – no matter the color of their skin, the nation of their origin, the particularity of their sin, or the circumstances of their life.
Let us, as believers in Jesus, turn toward this conversation today, not away from it.